50/50 Pledge aims to bring equality to tech conferences

30 Jul 2015

50/50 Pledge aims to see more women standing at the podium at tech conferences and events

Sandi MacPherson, Quibb founder and California-based entrepreneur, has started a new venture with a laudable aim — with 50/50 Pledge, she aims to bring equality to the stage of tech conferences and events.

50/50 Pledge will, MacPherson hopes, challenge event organisers to change the way they populate speaker lists at tech events.

All too often, the speaking roster is wholly skewed towards men. In fact, according to a Fast Company article on the 50/50 Pledge, men frequently outnumber women by as many as three to one.

While event organisers often say there simply aren’t enough women in tech, MacPherson – through Quibb – knew that just wasn’t the case.

Quibb, which is a professional network on which members can share industry news, has enough women in its ranks for MacPherson to know lack of tech conference representation wasn’t a matter of numbers, but a matter of visibility.

And so, says Fast Company, 50/50 was begun with a tweet. Back in May, MacPherson, frustrated by the lack of women speaking at tech events, decided to let a call ring forth:

Within two months, more than 1,100 women had signed up to 50/50, which gathers the details of women who are qualified to speak at high-level conferences in one place. The roster now includes women leaders at Google and Facebook, among others.

But the work is far from over. As well as encouraging more women to sign up, MacPherson knows that having the list is one thing, but getting organisers to use it is quite another.

She now aims to partner with those organisers, providing them with suggested women speakers who are “focused on the right topic and in the right role”.

Silicon Republic is proud to be taking it even further than the 50/50 Pledge aims to. At Inspirefest 2015, ‘Change the Ratio’ was the byword, with a 75/25 ratio of female-to-male speakers.

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Eircom, Fidelity Investments, ESB, Accenture and CoderDojo.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Main image, via Shutterstock


Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic